GUEST POST: Headlines show how far the LGBT movement has come

Stephen Lucin is the founder of Stephen Lucin (PR + Communications), which specializes in helping clients reach the LGBT Community. He has worked with clients such as American couturier Ralph Rucci, First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles and Varsity Gay League, among many others. His efforts have earned media placements on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, coverage in The New York Times, Hollywood Reporter, Instinct Magazine, The Advocate, Men's Health, among countless other mainstream, LGBT publications, and broadcast, radio and alternative media. Stephen is also a travel writer who frequently journals about his excursions around the world. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

When people hear Iʼm a publicist, they sometimes turn their backs and walk away from me, just as a television executive once did at an equality awards event; ironically he was one of the presenters. But some people actually stay and get to know me, and in time we develop professional relationships that far outweigh and far outlive some personal relationships of my past.

The same could be said about the LGBT Community. When we divulge our sexuality, it sometimes makes people uneasy and they simply walk out of our lives. But some, the most important people, stay, understand and continue to love us as equally as we love them.

When I started out in my independent public relations career, the first client I signed was the Stonewall Inn, a place that made headlines before I was even aliveas the birthplace of the LGBT movement. Back in 1969 (again, before I was born), the New York Daily News reported in an article laden with sarcastic metaphors and stereotypes about the events of that late July evening. The headline read: “Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad.”

Today, among the countless amazing clients with whom I work, who strive for equality in markets and in the realm of social issues, one of them is an athletic organization, Varsity Gay League (V.G.L.), that was started six years ago because of a simple game of tag. It has grown ten-fold since then, and even made headlines as a prominent feature story on the front page of the Los Angeles Times with the headline: “Gay and Playing the Field.”

When I saw that headline, and when I eventually realized that the story made the front page, I was shocked and awed and immensely joyous at the strides that we have made as a community. I was incredibly excited for my client, for myself and for the reporter whose story made top billing, but what brought me the most joy was the fact that the word “gay” was used in the headline, and not in the pejorative - and it had nothing to do with gay marriage.

We are no longer objects to be lambasted and ridiculed by the media, but rather a community of individuals who are looking for acceptance, friendship and love. Sure, the Timesʼ  headline was a pun, but it was of the genial sort. And the article focused not only on the evolution of recreational sports within the LGBT Community, it also focused on why certain folks joined and how important relationships of any sort are important to us as individuals.

As a young man, it took me nearly two decades to understand that I was gay. It took me a few more years to become accepting of it. Through trials of my own of what is now termed “ex-gay” therapy, wishing the gay away, dating boys and trying to suppress the feelings, I learned that I could no longer fight what was and is a part of who I am. Within this community, my community, there are those who have suffered far worse than me; and there are thankfully those who have not suffered at all. But we are all individuals to be loved and accepted. And it is this understanding that has become synonymous with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community - it is this understanding that has brought us to a place of evolving equality throughout our nation.

In my lifetime I have seen the concept of same-sex marriage develop from an unreachable ideal to one that has become a reality in 14 states in our union; one of which is my home state of New Jersey and the other in which I have made my new home: California. Iʼve now seen and heard the term “gay” used more consistently as a neutral and positive term, and even read it on the front pages of huge media outlets.

Weʼve come a long way as a community; Iʼve come a long way as an individual. There is definitely much more terrain to cover. But given our track record, things are, without a doubt, going to come sooner than we anticipate.